Early and forced marriage
14 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year. That’s around 1,166,666 a month, 269230 a week, 38,461 a day and 27 every minute. One in every five girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18. One in nine marries before they reach the age of 15. In countries like Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea and the Central African Republic (CAR), the rate of early and forced marriage is 60 per cent and over. Child brides are particularly prevalent in South Asia (46 per cent) and in sub-Saharan Africa (38 per cent). Countries with the highest rates of early and forced marriage in Europe include Georgia (17 per cent), Turkey (14 per cent) and Ukraine (10 per cent). At least 10 per cent of adolescents marry before the age of 18 in Britain and France. Early and forced marriage is defined as a marriage, without the consent or against the will of at least one spouse. It is different towards arranged marriage, as there the spouses are willing to marry each other and it is just arranged by the family members. Even though men could also be forced married, in most cases women and girls are affected and often at a very young age. Even though there are nowadays many legislations about ages, they are often neglected.
One reason is that forced marriage is mostly popular in countries where women are discriminated in terms of education and their rights. They are repressed by other family members, such as fathers or brothers, and if they refuse to get married, they might be exposed to threats, violence or even honour killing. However, early and forced marriages can result in serious consequences. For example they might contribute to putting people, specifically girls, into a cycle of poverty and powerlessness. Most are likely to experience things such as violence, abuse and forced sexual relations. This means women who marry younger in age are more likely to be dominated by their husband. They also experience poor sexual and reproductive health. Young married girls are more likely to contract HIV and their health could be in jeopardy. Most people that are forced into a marriage lack education and become illiterate.
Young ones tend to drop out of school shortly before they get married. Just recently a 13-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal injuries four days after a family-arranged marriage to a man almost twice her age.
As those cases are not uncommon, most people can‘t understand why early and forced marriage is executed in some countries. Are there any ethical reasons that might explain early and forced marriage?
In most cases forced marriage gets executed in a patriach enviroment, where women and girls get supressed and discriminated. Religion is in these societies a function that legitimates their traditions. Correspondigly are traditions and cultures often used as explanation of forcing women and girls to get married. For example preserving virginity until marriage is important, that is why girls get married at a young age to warrant this. Losing the virginity is commonly considered within many cultures to be an important personal milestone and it is seen as the end of innocence, integrity, or purity, and the sexualization of the individual.
Moreover there is a belief that marriage safeguards against ‘immoral’ or ‘inappropriate behaviour’ failure to enforce laws.
Sometimes families are not even aware they are breaking the law. In some countries early marriage is so prevalent, prosecutions are seldom brought conflicts, disasters and emergencies. If disasters and emergencies increase economic pressures on households and many families that wouldn’t previously have considered early marriage turn to it as a last resort.
Moreover in families on a low income, girls may be viewed as an economic burden. The perception of girls’ potential to earn an income as comparatively poor pushes girls out of their homes and into marriage negative traditional or religious practices.
Furthermore in some cases parents force their children to marry, as they aim to get a right of residence in a particular country.
It is actually notable that in some cases families don‘t see any other solution to their financial problems. Of course selling the daughter to get forced married seems to be an absurd solution, however they probably don‘t really see the consequences of their action. This is linked to a lack of
eduaction, which I believe is another reason for early and forced marriage. In Afghanistan for example, where early and forced marriage are very common, only thirteen percent of the population are able to write and read. Moreover going to school or university is very difficult and who doesn‘t live in a big city has basically no chance to receive education.
This is why people don‘t and can‘t change the way they think. They are probably often not aware of the consequences of early and forced marriage. They grow up with this practice and have never questioned it. So why should they start thinking it‘s wrong what they do, if everyone in their enviroment has done and still does it? As absurd as it seems, it is normal for them and they are just protecting their religious ideas that have been misguided or out of date. Moreover it can also result from peer or family pressure.
However, in many cases girls suffer from gender inequality. Women and girls often occupy a lower status in societies as a result of social and cultural traditions, attitudes, beliefs that deny them their rights and stifle their ability to play an equal role in their homes and communities poverty
Feminist positions believe that forced marriage is an expression of patriach power and the mens‘ interest of control of the women.
The United Nations views forced marriage as a form of human rights abuse, since it violates the principle of the freedom and autonomy of individuals. In actual fact the consequences of forced and early marriage are enormous. Young people forced into marriage often become estranged from their families.
Sometimes they become suffer from abuse with serious long-term consequences including self-harm and suicide. Many women forced into marriage suffer further domestic violence. These women feel unable to leave because of the lack of family support, economic pressure and other social circumstances. One of teh biggest problems facing victims of forced marraige is Isolation. They feel they have no one to whom they can talk. In general victims live in fear, and suffer because they have to leave behind family, friends and all that is familiar to them. Some families may resort to ‘honour based violence’ as the woman is seen to have dishonoured the family and often employ people or send male relatives to find her and bring her back or kill her in the name of ‘honour’, if found could be sent back to country of origin.